Jerry Garcia – Deal

I haven’t heard this song as much as Sugaree but I like it almost just as well.

It is so well crafted and it swings with the best of them. This was off of his debut Garcia album and his voice is in perfect form. When I think of Jerry Garcia I never think…hmm great vocalist… but this changes my mind. His voice is so clear…it shows what a good vocalist Garcia could be. Robert Hunter’s words flow through you while Garcia’s guitar dances all around. He tops it off with a versatile solo.

The album is a mix of folk, country, blues, jazz, experimental,  and rock. I love the roots music because it’s so clean and genuine. He made the album in 1971 with mostly himself. Bill Kreutzmann (Dead Drummer) was the only other musician credited on Garcia, which was recorded at Wally Heider’s Studio D in San Francisco in July 1971 and released in January 1972.

Garcia also did the album for a cash infusion to buy a house for himself and Carolyn Adams (Mountain Girl) and two children. This was recorded a year after Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty…considered two of the best Grateful Dead albums. Many of the songs on this album became staples for the Grateful Dead in concert.

Bill Kreutzmann was credited as co-writer on 5 of the tracks and Garcia and Hunter on 5 tracks. Robert Hunter also collaborated with Bob Dylan on songs Duquesne Whistle, Ugliest Girl In The World, and the minor hit Silvio. He also co-wrote all but one track on the  Bob Dylan album Together Through Life released in 2009.

Jerry Garcia on making the album:  I’m doing it to be completely self-indulgent—musically. I’m just going on a trip. I have a curiosity to see what I can do and I’ve a desire to get into 16-track and go on trips which are too weird for me to want to put anybody else I know through. And also to pay for this house! 

Jerry Garcia: I’ll probably end up doing it with a lot of people. So far I’m only working with Bill Kreutzmann because I can’t play drums. But everything else I’m going to try to play myself. Just for my own edification. What I’m going to do is what I would do if I had a 16-track at home, I’m just going to goof around with it. And I don’t want anyone to think that it’s me being serious or anything like that—it’s really me goofing around. I’m not trying to have my own career or anything like that. There’s a lot of stuff that I feel like doing and the Grateful Dead, just by fact that it’s now a production for us to go out and play, we can’t get as loose as we had been able to, so I’m not able to stay as busy as I was. It’s just a way to keep my hand in so to speak, without having to turn on a whole big scene. In the world that I live in there’s the Grateful Dead which is one unit which I’m a part of and then there’s just me. And the me that’s just me, I have to keep my end up in order to be able to take care of my part of the Grateful Dead. So rather than sit home and practice—scales and stuff—which I do when I’m together enough to do it—I go out and play because playing music is more enjoyable to me than sitting home and playing scales.

Deal

Since it costs a lot to win, and even more to lose,
You and me bound to spend some time wond’rin’ what to choose.
Goes to show, you don’t ever know,
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Don’t you let that deal go down, no, no.

I been gamblin’ hereabouts for ten good solid years,
If I told you all that went down it would burn off both of your ears.
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Don’t you let that deal go down, no, no.

Since you poured the wine for me and tightened up my shoes,
I hate to leave you sittin’ there, composin’ lonesome blues.
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down.

Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down,
Wait until that deal come round, don’t you let that deal go down,
Don’t you let that deal go down, don’t you let that deal go down.

Grateful Dead – Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo

I can imagine listening to this song floating down the river on a warm southern day. How could anyone not like that title? I first heard this song in the 80s from a friend’s brother who was a complete Dead Head.

Hello baby, I’m gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye

While Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia were writing the song, Garcia had a problem with one particular word in this line: Cueball’s made of styrofoam
and no one’s got the time.

Robert Hunter said that Garcia argued:  “This is so uncharacteristic of your work, to put something as time-dated” or whatever that word would be “as Styrofoam into it.” I’ve never sung that song without regretting I put that line in. Jerry also didn’t like songs that had political themes to them, and in retrospect, I think this was wise because a lot of the stuff with political themes from those days sounds pretty callow these days.”

The song was a popular one in concert…It was performed over 230 times live by The Grateful Dead over the years.

The song was on the Wake of the Flood album released in 1973… but not without its problems. It came three long years after the Dead’s previous studio album, American Beauty. Now, this would be normal but back in the seventies that was a lifetime.

The Dead had just left Warner Bros and were without a record deal. Then manager  Ron Rakow talked to Garcia about starting the label and soon it was agreed. They made a decision to start their own record label like The Beatles and Stones did…except for one thing. They had no one to distribute them. Phil Lesh said: “We already owned our own sound system. Booking and travel were in-house. It seemed as if being our own record company would be worth a try. No one could see a downside.”

Rakow talked for a while about distributing records by ice cream trucks. Yes…fans would place their order through the local ice cream truck vendor and you would pick up your album with… a snowcone I guess. The voice of reason soon prevailed and they eventually got United Artists to distribute their records.

Wake of the Flood was their first studio album released on their new Grateful Dead Records. They did release two singles before that. They had problems after the release. They took a call from one distributor… the copies he’d received of Wake of the Flood sounded so bad, he said, that kids were bringing them back to the stores. The Dead office thought it was a hustle…retailers wanting records sent to them for free until he asked yet another grousing store owner to send him a copy of the supposedly flawed record. What arrived in the mail at the Dead office was a truly fake Wake of the Flood… a cover that amounted to a mimeographed photo of the artwork and an LP with music that sounded as if it had been copied from a cassette, complete with hissing noises. They’d been bootlegged.

One source says the label was told in advance by shadowy figures in Brooklyn that any release on Grateful Dead Records would be bootlegged and that they would have no choice but to go along with it. Soon after that batch, the bootlegs stopped and it was over as quick as it started. The band lost up to 90,000 because of the bootlegs.

Soon after the album’s release, Warner Bros released a greatest hits album called Skeletons in the Closet. Wake of the Flood peaked at #18 in the Billboard Album Charts and #30 in Canada in 1973.

Garcia talked about the line: I lost my boots in transit babe
A pile of smoking leather

“I was in an automobile accident in 1960 with four other guys… 90-plus miles an hour on a back road. We hit these dividers and went flying, I guess. All I know is that I was sitting in the car and there was this… disturbance… and the next thing, I was in a field, far enough away from the car that I couldn’t see it.

“The car was crumpled like a cigarette pack… and inside it were my shoes. I’d been thrown completely out of my shoes and through the windshield. One guy did die in the group. It was like losing the golden boy, the one who had the most to offer. For me it was crushing, but I had the feeling that my life had been spared to do something, to either go whole hog or not at all…That was when my life began. Before that I had been living at less than capacity. That event was the slingshot for the rest of my life. It was my second chance, and I got serious.”

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

On the day that I was born
Daddy sat down and cried
I had the mark just as plain as day
which could not be denied
They say that Cain caught Abel
rolling loaded dice,
ace of spades behind his ear
and him not thinking twice

Half-step
Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello baby, I’m gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I’m on my way – on my way

If all you got to live for
is what you left behind
get yourself a powder charge
and seal that silver mine
I lost my boots in transit babe
A pile of smoking leather
Nailed a retread to my feet
and prayed for better weather

Half-step
Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello, baby, I’m gone, good-bye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I’m on my way – on my way

They say that when your ship comes in
the first man takes the sails
The second takes the afterdeck
The third the planks and rails
What’s the point to callin shots?
This cue ain’t straight in line
Cueball’s made of styrofoam
and no one’s got the time

Half-step
Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello baby, I’m gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I’m on my way – on my way

Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river
Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead …. by David Browne

I’ve read a few books about the Dead but this one is probably the best I’ve read. I just finished re-reading it after finishing it three years ago. It is their complete history from beginning to end. The book I enjoyed the most was Deal: by Bill Kreutzmann The Deads drummer. He has some great stories and Steve Parish’s book is good also…but as far as the history…this has been the best.

This is not like reading a book about the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, or even the Allman Brothers. The Grateful Dead were totally different in the way they came about and what path they took. They were such a hippy band but along the way they turned into a corporate organization…a different kind of organization but one all the same. Their crew was known to be loud and sometimes violent along with the Hells Angels by the mid-seventies and the craziness wore off on everyone around them.

I always thought of them as this loose ensemble that just loved playing. Yes, they loved playing but they weren’t above pointing fingers when something went wrong on stage. At one point Weir and Pigpen were “fired” although accounts differ on if they really were let go. In other words, they were human… like anyone else. They did however think differently and for a bunch of hippies…they were very ambitious.

Speaking of Pigpen (Ron McKernan)… that was a wonderful thing about this book…his importance is highlighted and you see how important he was to the Grateful Dead. Jerry wasn’t the key focus when they started…it was Pigpen. Although he looked like a biker…he was described as an incredibly nice and sensitive man. He was the showman of the band and Jerry commented that he was the best musician in the band in the beginning.

The book covers their entire career and along with the way, there are many twists and turns. They cover Garcia’s slide down until his diabetic coma in 1986 when he had to re-learn how to play guitar again. Less than a year later they were back on the road and then recorded the In The Dark album.

The band never had a big hit single and now…over 20 years of being together and touring they were suddenly huge with the song Touch Of Grey. They even agreed to play the game with the record company and they made a video. They were signed to Arista Records and the record company and band were at a meeting. Garcia suddenly asked, “I don’t have to do Dick Clark, do I?” With that, the executives laughed at the thought of the Grateful Dead appearing on American Bandstand.

There were points where it looked like Garcia would beat his addictions but the threat of him going back to heroin was always there. They also cover all the members rather well…Garcia wasn’t the only one with drug problems but his problem probably affected the band the most.

If you want to learn about their history…this is a really good read.

Grateful Dead – Don’t Ease Me In

I first noticed this song on the concert film The Festival Express a few years ago. I’ve heard the two studio versions but that live version is the one I like best. It’s something about it I really connect to. Garcia and Weir sound great singing together along with Pigpen playing the harmonica. It’s just a simple blues-type song but it works well for me anyway.

As soon as I heard it I took one of my acoustic guitars off the wall and kept running back the video file back and playing with them…I didn’t think they would mind.

This song was first released by the Dead in 1966 as their first single with Stealin on the flip side. That version is good and it reminds me of the band Them…not the voice but the music. They also released it again on their Go To Heaven album in 1980 but that version to me is a little too slick. The version on Festival Express shows all the ragged edges in the best way. It is pure Americana. They would do it live many times later on but I still go back to the Festival version.

They also covered it before they were the Grateful Dead. They started off as a jug band called Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions and most likely covered it when they were called the Warlocks.

They might have heard the version of the song by Henry Thomas…an old blues artist that lived from 1874 to around 1930. If you want to learn more in detail about Thomas and this song go here to Jim’s site. It also sounds close to a song by Jelly Roll Morton called Don’t You Leave Me Here. On the Go To Heaven album, it’s credited to “traditional arranged by The Grateful Dead.” The single that was released in 1966 was credited to Garcia but I’ve read where he didn’t authorize that and didn’t ask for a credit.

Speaking of the Festival Express…it was The Transcontinental Pop Festival… better known as the Festival Express. Great idea on paper… rounding up musicians in 1970 and placing them on a train going across Canada and stopping along the way to play festivals. What could go wrong? Actually, I would have loved to have been on that train. The lineup: The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy Blues Band, The Fly Burrito Brothers, Sha Na Na, and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.

There were artists that were not in the film like Traffic, Ten Years After, Tom Rush, Ian & Sylvia, Mountain, and more.

A DVD was released of this in 2004. All these musicians were on a train full of liquor and an assortment of drugs… liquor was the popular choice among the musicians on this ride. The tour was to have events in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Montreal event was canceled as was Vancouver. In Toronto, protesters were saying the festival promoters were price gouging so The Grateful Dead played a free concert in a park nearby to ease tensions with the protesters.

When watching the film you can see the performers are having a ball jamming with each other because they didn’t get a lot of chances to do that on the road.

Here is the link to the full movie free on youtube…if you have time…it’s worth it!

Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead): We celebrated Janis Joplin’s birthday at the last stop the traditional way: with birthday cake. In keeping with our own kind of tradition, somebody—within our ranks, I would imagine—had secretly infused the cake with a decent amount of LSD. So it quickly became an electric birthday celebration. Allegedly, some generous pieces of that birthday cake made it to the hands and mouths of the local police who were working the show. “Let them eat cake!” (To be fair, I didn’t have anything to do with that … I was just another cake-eating birthday reveler, that night.)
And that was it for the Festival Express. It was a wonderful time and I think what really made it great was the level of interaction and camaraderie among the musicians, day and night, as we were all trapped on this train careening across the great north. It probably helped that we were all trashed the entire time. Whiskey was in the conductor’s seat on that ride.

I would recommend getting the DVD of this event. It’s a great time capsule of that time in music and culture.

Don’t Ease Me In

Don’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

I was standing on the corner, talking to Miss Brown
When I turned around, sweet mama, she was way across town
So I’m walking down the street, with a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet mama, ain’t got no manDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inThe girl I love, she’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet mama, it’s pink and blue
She brings me coffee, you know she brings me tea
She brings about every damn thing, but the jailhouse keyDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

Talking to Miss Brown
Well I turned around, sweet moma
She was way cross town

So I’m walking down the street
With a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet moma
Ain’t got no man

The girl I love
She’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet moma
It’s pink and blue

She brings me coffee
You know she brings me tea
She brings ’bout every damn thing
But the jailhouse key

Jerry Garcia – Sugaree

I remember this song on the radio in the seventies. Of all places, it was played a lot at our local skating rink. It’s high on the list of my favorite songs. It wasn’t the best song written by Garcia and Hunter but I can listen to it at any time. Probably the first Dead…or close to a Dead song I ever heard. The song has stuck with me my entire life.

Jerry Garcia played most of the instruments on this album except drums and Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann handled those. Sugaree was on the Garcia album released in 1972. He had teamed up with other players in the past but this was his first solo album. The song peaked at #94 on the Billboard 100 in 1972. I always liked the vague lyrics to this song. I first thought it was about death… you can take it a lot of ways.

The Grateful Dead did this live many times…Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote this song. The Dead made their reputation live. They got very little radio play and didn’t sell many albums, but they are one of the top-grossing concert acts of all time.

Like the Allman Brothers, they formed a family atmosphere with their crew and it extended to their audience. From the early Kool-Aid acid tests to later on allowing the audience to tape their shows drew their audience closer. They would later give them their own section to record in…while other bands like Led Zeppelin would send people to bust their tape recorder or head. Garcia commented: Well, my feelings are, the music is for the people…I mean after it leaves our instruments it’s of no value to us, ya know what I mean? it’s like, ya know…what good is it? So it might as well be taped, my feeling is that..and if people enjoy taping it and enjoy having the tapes to listen to, that’s real great. “

They never played the same show twice. They would take songs in different directions and Garcia has said that he couldn’t play something twice the same. He just wasn’t built like that. That made every show unique…not that every show was great. The Dead has admitted they had their share of bad ones.

On Deadheads following them around the country: “Well, it’s obviously very important to them. And more than that, it’s giving them an adventure. They have stories to tell. Like, “Remember that time we had to go all the way to Colorado and we had to hitchhike the last 400 miles because the VW broke down in Kansas.” Or something like that. Y’know what I mean? That’s giving them a whole common group of experiences which they can talk about. For a lot of people, going to Grateful Dead concerts is like bumping into a bunch of old friends.”

Bill Kreutzmann…if you get a chance read his book Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead. I covered it here a while back. It’s an education in the rock world…or the Dead world of the 60s through the 90s. If you are offended by drugs, sex, and great music…pass it by.

Robert Hunter: “Sugaree was written soon after I moved from the Garcia household to China Camp. People assume the idea was cadged from Elizabeth Cotten’s ‘Sugaree,’ but, in fact, the song was originally titled ‘Stingaree,’ which is a poisonous South Sea manta. The phrase ‘just don’t tell them that you know me’ was prompted by something said by an associate in my pre-Dead days when my destitute circumstances found me fraternizing with a gang of minor criminals. What he said, when departing, was: ‘Hold your mud and don’t mention my name.’

“Why change the title to ‘Sugaree’? Just thought it sounded better that way, made the addressee seem more hard-bitten to bear a sugar-coated name. The song, as I imagined it, is addressed to a pimp. And yes, I knew Libba’s song, and did indeed borrow the new name from her, suggested by the ‘Shake it’ refrain.”

Bill Kreutzmann Drummer for the Dead: The album, Garcia, was cut at Wally Heider Studios in July 1971 and released by Warner Brothers the following January. There are a lot of songs on there that became Grateful Dead mainstays, in addition to “Deal”—we’re talking about straight-up classics like “Sugaree,” “Loser,” and “The Wheel.” Also, “Bird Song” is on there, which, to this day, is one of my all-time favorite Dead songs and one of my absolute favorite songs to play live (along with “Dark Star” and “The Other One”).

When I want musicians I’m playing with to learn any of those songs, I give them the Garcia versions. They’re just so good. I had a really great time making that album. Dealing exclusively with Jerry was the most effortless thing in the world. I didn’t have to do anything other than be myself. And play.

Cocaine was our special guest throughout those recording sessions, but you’d never be able to tell because everything was very laid back. I have no idea how we were able to do that, because cocaine isn’t exactly known for its relaxing properties. Maybe it was just the dynamic between us that made it all so … easy.

Sugaree

When they come to take you down
When they bring that wagon round
When they come to call on you
and drag your poor body down

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

You thought you was the cool fool
Never could do no wrong
Had everything sewed up tight
How come you lay awake all night long?

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

You know in spite of all you gained
you still have to stand out in the pouring rain
One last voice is calling you
and I guess it’s time you go

Just one thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
My darlin Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell them that you know me

Shake it up now, Sugaree
I’ll meet you at the Jubilee
If that Jubilee don’t come
Maybe I’ll meet you on the run

One thing I ask of you
Just one thing for me
Please forget you knew my name
my darling Sugaree

Shake it, shake it Sugaree
but don’t tell them that you know me
Shake it, shake it Sugaree
Just don’t tell ’em that you know me

Grateful Dead – Truckin’…Drug Reference Week

What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin see, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “ain’t it a shame?”

This wraps up Drug Reference Week. Thanks to all for reading and commenting…I hope you have enjoyed it.

This is the first Grateful Dead song I remember hearing. I heard it before I knew who the Grateful Dead were… the line Busted, down on bourbon street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin stuck with me. The line happened in real life for the band.

Every member of the Dead except Pigpen and Tom Constanten (who left the band immediately after the New Orleans incident) was included in the bust, along with several members of their entourage and some local associates.

Along with the others… Owsley Stanley, then a tech for the band as well as a well-known LSD producer…was arrested.

 

Grateful Dead

All of the 19 people caught in the raid were booked for possession of some combination of marijuana, LSD, barbiturates, amphetamines, or other dangerous non-narcotic drugs. It carried a penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison.

New Orleans police seem to fear that their good town will become the next Haight-Ashbury.

After posting bail money, the Dead were almost out of funds. They added an extra show in New Orleans and persuaded Fleetwood Mac to stay for the additional performance as well.

At the gig, a hat was passed around the audience to collect some additional cash for legal expenses. Most of the charges from the New Orleans bust were eventually dropped…but the Dead got a great sound out of the ordeal!

The song was written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, Phi Lesh, and Bob Weir.

Truckin’ peaked at #64 in the Billboard 100 in 1971.

Jerry Garcia: “They had great fun with us, the southern cops. They had just what they wanted: hippies. Oh, boy.”

 

From Songfacts

The ’60s was a time for traveling and discovering your place in the world. Sometimes what you found was an empty existence that just keeps repeating itself day to day. Having to deal with everyday life when you were always waiting for some kind of revelation to expand your consciousness was often depressing. The Grateful Dead sang of acceptance of banality and the drive to continue their search for epiphany.

One verse in particular: “What in the world ever became of sweet Jane, she lost her sparkle. Well you know she isn’t the same. Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine? All a friend can say is ain’t it a shame.” seems to refer to the endless desperation that overtakes some people. They turn to drugs to provide meaning in their lives. This of course fails and spirals their lives into deeper depression. Drugs are for enhancing a good time spent with good friends. They cannot provide answers to the meaning of life. The previous verse speaks to commonplace usage and the consequences of accepting illegal activities as a normal part of your life. You often get “busted” by the police. 

Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are the credited writers on this track along with their lyricist Robert Hunter.

The line, “Busted, down on Bourbon Street” refers to an incident on January 31, 1970 when members of the band were arrested in a drug bust that netted 19 people in New Orleans. The group was in town to play two shows at a club called the Warehouse, and the raid happened the morning after their first show at the French Quarter hotel where they were staying. Lesh, Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were all arrested along with crew members and fans of the band who had joined them at the hotel.

The story made the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune the next day, and drew national attention, with Rolling Stone running an article on the incident. Owsley Stanley, a Dead associate known for his pioneering work with LSD, was also arrested and labeled the “King of Acid” in the Times-Picayune piece. According to the Rolling Stone article, the band paid for bail and legal fees for all 19 arrested.

Truckin’

Truckin’ got my chips cashed in. keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on main street.
Chicago, new york, detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; houston, too close to new orleans;
New york’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be, oh no.

Most of the cast that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they better get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man. once told me “you’ve got to play your hand”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a dime, if you don’t lay’em down,

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times i can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of sweet jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin see, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to buffalo. been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before i travel,
But if you got a warrant, i guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on bourbon street, set up, like a bowlin’ pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. they just won’t let you be, oh no.

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of travelin’ and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times i can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, i’m a goin’ home. whoa whoa baby, back where i belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ on.
Hey now get back truckin’ home.

Grateful Dead – Uncle John’s Band

There are songs like Itchycoo Park, Can’t Find My Way Back Home, and this one that transports me back to a time that I’m too young to remember… but these songs make me feel like I was there.

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter collaborated on “Uncle John’s Band,” which was originally part of their stage set before they recorded it as a single track from their Workingman’s Dead album. It would go on to become one of their better-known songs

It’s possible that this song is about a string band called the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR), whose John Cohen was nicknamed “Uncle John.”

For two albums the Dead tried a more roots Americana type of music that may have been inspired by the then-new Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Personally, they are my favorite albums by them though I do like some others like From The Mars Hotel. 

The song peaked at #69 in the Billboard 100. If you want to read more info on the Dead…go to https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/g-is-for-grateful-dead/ 

Jim has over 30 Dead concerts in his past.

From Songfacts
The style is a laid-back bluegrass-folk arrangement on acoustic guitar. Vocals are in close harmony in a conscious effort to echo Cosby Stills & Nash – it worked, because CS&N covered it on their 2009 concert circuit.

Lots of Americana to touch on here – this was the first time the epithet “God Damn” had been heard in a Hot 100 hit. A “buckdancer” is “one who dances the buck-and-wing” according to The Dictionary of American Regional English. The phrase “buckdancer’s choice” is both a popular fiddle tune of Appalachia, and the title of a poetry collection by the American poet James Dickey; you’ll recognize him more when we tell you that one of his other works was turned into a little 1972 film called Deliverance.

More Americana: the line “fire and ice” references American poet Robert Frost’s poem of the same name, and the line “Don’t tread on me” is a famous phrase that first came out during the American Revolution from Britain – scope out an image of a yellow flag with a coiled, hissing snake sometime, that’s the “Gadsden flag,” later popular with the American Tea Party political movement. The line “the same story the crow told me” references Johnny Horton’s “The Same Old Tale the Crow Told Me,” which was the B-side to the better-known “Sink the Bismarck.” While that’s a British song, Horton was very much an American rockabilly artist (and he has no relation to the Horton who hears a who).

OK, who is Uncle John? That could be anybody and everybody – fan speculations run wild from the Biblical John the Baptist to Mississippi John Hurt. But maybe, like the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper, it was just an alias made up for fun.

This was one of the Dead’s first attempts to reach beyond their little cult and take a shot at the mainstream. The single release was cut by 25 seconds from the album version. Although this plan didn’t work out with the single scoring a lukewarm #69, the album itself went on to sell well at one million copies – a first for them – and “Uncle John’s Band” became one of their more well-known songs.

Uncle John’s Band

Well the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more
‘Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door
Think this through with me, let me know your mind
Wo, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind

It’s a buck dancer’s choice my friend; better take my advice
You know all the rules by now and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me? won’t you come with me
Wo, oh, what I want to know, will you come with me

Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the like
Their wall are built of cannonballs, their motto is don’t tread on me
Come hear uncle John’s band playing to the tide
Come with me, or go alone, he’s come to take his children home

It’s the same story the crow told me; it’s the only one he knows
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go
Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait
Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go

I live in a silver mine and I call it beggar’s tomb
I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune
Anybody’s choice, I can hear your voice
Wo, oh, what I want to know, how does the song go

Come hear uncle John’s band by the riverside
Got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide

Come hear uncle John’s band playing to the tide
Come on along, or go alone, he’s come to take his children home
Wo, oh, what I want to know, how does the song go

Deal by Bill Kreutzmann

The book is called Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

This book is what you would imagine from the drummer (one of them) of the Grateful Dead. Music, drugs, women, drugs, travels, guns, drugs, death, drink and more drugs. Actually, I really enjoyed the book. He is very open and very honest about his actions good and bad.

He is not a shy guy whatsoever. He shares his feelings about any subject that comes up. He does go into the music and how he feels about his bandmates. Most are positive but he does not hold back.

He covers the complete career of the band. He openly said he was very happy being the only drummer of the band when Mickey Hart quit and didn’t like it one bit when Mickey rejoined the band…at first anyway.

He goes into his relationship with Jerry Garcia. He also admits the guilt the band share in not trying to help Garcia more…but Jerry was his own man. He writes about the so-called keyboard player curse the band had in their career.

He tells us about the 72 European tour, shows they played near the pyramids and the Festival Express. I will say this…this band had fun. They were like a family and treated their employees well for the most part.

The only thing that I wish he would have shared more about was Pigpen. The band was apparently in the dark about how bad Pigpen was doing before he died. Maybe he didn’t share it with them.

I learned a lot about the Dead that I didn’t know about.

The book keeps going at a good pace. With the Dead’s long career he never lacks for stories. A lot of rock autobiographies are coming out and again this one takes the template that Keith Richards made with his book “Life” and fills it in.

Bill Kreutzmann from Deal about Garcia and heroin:

I’m pretty sure Jerry wasn’t into heroin during the making of Garcia; as far I know, he hadn’t even discovered it yet. But when he did, during subsequent Grateful Dead albums, it could become difficult just to get him to show up, unfortunately. That got to be really old, really fast, for all of us. We wanted to play music with him so badly that we’d put up with it, which—in hindsight—was crazy. Nobody else in the band would’ve been able to get away with it; at least, not to the extent that he did. But Jerry Garcia was the exception.
It also opens up a moral question that we can talk about now, but we can never truly answer, since he’s not with us. There was a certain feeling, toward the end, that Jerry was using the Grateful Dead to finance his drug habit. That’s a sad thought. I don’t think he ever intended it to be that way or for it to get to that point or to hurt anyone. He was as pure of a musician as they come. But heroin addiction will change a person in ways that are tragic and discouraging.

 

 

 

The Grateful Dead

I’ve never been a Deadhead but I am envious of them. Unlike any other band…their music and fans belong in a special class. The fans are joined to an elusive club and a lot of them are really close. The band at one time was so accessible… more than any other band I’ve heard of… They have so much music to pick from…years and years of touring and recording. The band not only didn’t mind fans recording their concerts but set up a special place to record for a time. Led Zeppelin’s manager would have his goons smash fan’s recording equipment for doing that…other bands also.

They did not compromise…they did what they wanted to do and forget the rest. Top ten records? Nah…didn’t need them…didn’t have one until the 80s and still outdrew almost everyone. I’m happy they did have the one in the 80s…Touch of Grey…they really didn’t need it but it made the general public take notice. It was great in the 80s to see a cool anti-rock star Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead chugging away on MTV sounding better than the spandex idiots on the other videos at the time.

For me, I like their early seventies period a lot. Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty (which are two classic albums) From The Mars Hotel and a little later the adventurous Terrapin Station. I mostly like songs that are condensed down…hence why I was never really big on the long jams but I really respect the musicianship that went into them live. They could be playing folk, bluegrass, jazz and then switch on a dime to rock…and make it fit. To me, it was like a huge bus rolling down the road about to go off the cliff at any moment and then suddenly being jerked back on the road before the crash….sometimes it wasn’t but for the most part, it was pulled back just in time.

When Jerry died in 1995 I was sad. I didn’t know a whole a lot about him or the band…though I had their greatest hits in the early 80s…I knew enough to know someone and something special had gone too soon…I also regretted not being on that bus for a small ride anyway.

Songs I like:

Ripple, A Friend of the Devil, Mr. Charlie, Truckin, Uncle Johns Band (which I could listen on a tape loop for eons and eons), U.S. Blues, New Speedway Boogie, Casey Jones, Attics of My Life, Brokedown Palace, Box of Rain, Sugar Magnolia, Touch of Grey, Hell in a Bucket and a Garcia solo Sugaree…

There are many more I’m not remembering…